The Central Bureau Of Investigation’s plea in the Supreme Court to re-instate conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders, L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and others in the case related to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December, 1992 could have wide ranging political ramifications. Firstly, the matter could impact the Presidential polls due in July this year, since the two party stalwarts, Advani and Joshi are seen as probable nominees for the august office. In the event of the Apex Court accepting the CBI’s request of reviving the conspiracy charges and simultaneously clubbing two trial proceedings in progress in Rae Bareli and Lucknow, both leaders could very well be out of contention. The Court is expected to give its ruling on 22 March and the order would be of paramount interest in political circles as on one hand it may put a question mark on Advani and Joshi’s prospects and on the other revive the demolition case at the national level.
The conspiracy charge against Advani, Joshi and others was dropped by the Allahabad High Court on a “technicality”. The CBI, under instructions from the UPA government, appealed against the decree. However, even after the NDA came to power, the CBI stand remains unchanged as was reflected by the submissions of Additional Solicitor General Neera Kaul before an Apex Court division bench comprising Justices P.C. Ghose and R.F. Nariman. The accused have been served notices and the knowledgeable and learned judges could possibly give a final view on the subject at the next hearing.
The Babri Masjid demolition case had attracted world-wide attention and the vandalisation cum destruction of the disputed structure had led to large scale riots in various parts of the country. The matter had resulted in the polarisation on religious lines and had thereby contributed to the rise of the BJP as a major political party and the primary challenger to the Congress. Thus, the hearing of the case ahead of the final phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh was prominently reported in the media. Several political analysts believe that the resurgence of the matter would certainly serve to further divide the polity on religious lines, though it would concurrently cause a collateral damage to the chances of Advani and Joshi, two past presidents and founding members of the BJP.
However, in Joshi’s case, since he was conferred with the Padma Vibhushan at this year’s Republic Day celebrations, it would be extremely difficult for the BJP’s leadership to overlook his claim for the prestigious office of Indian President. He is a pre-eminently qualified BJP leader but despite this fact, the party might opt for someone else, depending on how the Sangh views the outcome of the Assembly polls.
The revival of the Babri Masjid demolition case would certainly be politically used to further the chances of the BJP in various regions. The triple talaq debate, which correctly seeks to give adequate rights to oppressed Muslim women, is the first step towards working for a uniform civil code.
On another note, it has been evident that the BJP has abandoned its development and good governance agenda which had dominated the political discourse of the 2014 Parliamentary polls. Instead it is working towards the restoration of the three core issues—the construction of Ram Temple, an uniform civil code and the abrogation of Article 370. The campaigning during the Assembly polls made it abundantly clear that the BJP would not hesitate in pursuing a polarising and divisive agenda in order to meet its objectives.
Therefore, the revival of the Babri Masjid demolition case would certainly be politically used to further the chances of the BJP in various regions. The triple talaq debate, which correctly seeks to give adequate rights to oppressed Muslim women, is the first step towards working for a uniform civil code. The episodes in Kashmir, which would receive enormous attention of the Centre shortly, are likely to be a part of a fresh Kashmir policy that would lead to the resurrection of a debate for abrogation of Article 370.
Overall, the Sangh leadership realises that unless the Hindutva card is deftly played, the BJP would find it immensely difficult to retain its relevance, despite the reality that the Congress is collapsing with no signs of its resuscitation in the immediate future. In this context, it should not come as a surprise if there is a re-emergence of the demands for a Krishna Janambhoomi in Mathura and a similar development in Varanasi.
The demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya had facilitated in neutralising the repercussions of the rushed implementation of the Mandal commission by the Vishwanath Pratap Singh government. It is more than obvious that the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya would once again become a formidably potent political tool for the ruling party. Between us.